Thursday, 5 May 2011

Workplace communication: Breaking down the barriers

Posters on listening
Communication posters
Workplace communication poster

How many mishaps in your workplace have happened as a result of a breakdown in communication?

Communication problems can cause chaos, confusion, conflict and complaints. Not to mention costs in lost revenue from mistakes and dissatisfied customers.

The problems are common in most workplaces, mainly because communication is often reliant on individuals, who can themselves become barriers.

So what are the main barriers and how do we go about breaking them down?

Remember that speaking is about what you say and how you say it. Studies show that just 7% of the information you impart to others comes from your words, but 38% of what you give away is in your tone of voice.

Stop, think and take a breath before you speak to make sure it comes out right. Avoid rambling, mumbling, using a monotone voice or speaking too loudly or quietly. Plan what you want to say and deliver it in an upbeat tone.

Whether you are taking a message or receiving an instruction, you need to give the other person your full attention and listen carefully to what they are saying. If you don't, how can you expect to relay a message or act on an instruction correctly?

When the other person has finished speaking, make sure you have understood what has been said. It is often a good idea to repeat it back, just to be on the safe side.

A conversation is a two-way process. You need to listen as much as you speak and allow the other person(s) to have their say without interrupting them.

Body language
Research shows that up to 55% of what you communicate to others comes from your body language. To engage your listeners and build trust, avoid fidgeting, folding your arms or looking at the floor. Be positive, keep your arms open and use plenty of eye contact.

Writing things down
If you are taking a message, it may help to write it down. Remember to include the time and date, plus the name and telephone number of the person you spoke to. Write the details clearly and legibly to avoid any confusion. You may need to ask the other person to spell out any difficult words or names.

Passing on messages
Always remember to pass on messages you have taken. Do it straight away and make sure it reaches the right person.

For further tips and advice, see my previous blog, which focuses on conflict in the workplace.

Kodiak's workplace poster programme covers all aspects of successful communication.

We have posters on a variety of communication topics including listening, speaking, body language, taking messages and resolving workplace conflict.

For more information, or to find out how our posters could improve communication in your company, please contact us.

For daily tips on dealing with common workplace issues, why not follow us on Twitter.
If you would like to find out how Kodiak posters 
can help your business work smoother, smarter 
and safer, please call us on: 01530 456 000 
or email us.

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